When ever I'm having a lazy day or feeling overwhelmed by my todo list I think of Janine Vangool. She is the founding editor, researcher, designer of Uppercase Magazine, social media master, small business owner. With all that on her plate Janine is also a wife and mother to little Finley. The amount of this Janine gets done in one day is truly inspiring.
The other day I got the chance to pick Janine's brain and here's what she had to say.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Calgary, Canada with my novelist husband and four year old son. I worked as a freelance graphic designer in the arts, culture and publishing sectors and have also taught typography and publication design at the college level. UPPERCASE started as a store and gallery in 2005 where I highlighted design and illustration while freelancing from the same space.
What inspired you start Uppercase magazine?
As a designer, I longed for the challenge of creating content rather than just making clients’ work look good. UPPERCASE was launched in 2009. It is directed to creatives — designers, illustrators, typographers, crafters and bloggers — who have a wide range of interests; a broadly inspiring magazine wasn’t available at the time. It was the magazine that I wanted to read.
Is there anything that came as a surprise to you when you first started Uppercase?
It has all been surprising: how much work it is, how well-received it has been by my subscribers... and how much I love doing it!
Is there a story behind the name? What inspired it?
When I started my gallery/store, it was on the upper level of a 3-level arts complex. I wanted a name that referenced typography, so UPPERCASE was a natural fit. Later, when it morphed into a magazine, I kept the same name since I already had a few years of investment and recognition into the name.
Whats your favourite thing about running an indie magazine?
My favourite part is being so connected with my readers. I can email and chat and instagram with them all day long (and I do!) and discover what they are interested in. I can be pretty flexible in the kinds of content I run because I know my readers and don't have to go through some sort of editorial hierarchy.
What are your sources of creative inspiration? How do you come up with new ideas for the magazine?
Inspiration is everywhere! I’m always looking at blogs, books and other media. I also receive lots of content suggestions and portfolio links from our readers and more and more often the inspiration is coming directly from our subscribers. They’re a talented and enthusiastic bunch! I often notice trends or themes from what I’m seeing and collecting and those eventually emerge as themes to explore in future issues.
What magazines are you currently in love with?
Hmmm. I'm always looking at and collecting magazines. But now that I've been running a magazine for nearly 6 years, I don't think I can be "in love" with any other magazine but my own. It is hard to just kick back and relax with a magazine now, since I'm always experiencing it from a different viewpoint that a typical reader. There's always an element of "work" aspect in each magazine that I read.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting their own magazine?
The "how do I launch a magazine" is a question that I get a lot and my advice is to do your research: understand your audience, get your print or other production costs figured out and know your tolerance for risk. I'm considering creating an e-book or e-course on the topic if there's enough interest.
Where do you see the magazine five years from now?
I'll have made 20 more issue by then! Wow. That's almost double what I've done so far (23 issues). My goal is to make the day-to-day running of the magazine easier, so that I can concentrate on what I love best, which is content and design. I will continue to grow the magazine and its readership, slow and steady. I hope to offer more publications and products and even some small-scale conferences or events.
Uppercase in other places.